Call to revitalise Kg Ayer, monitor illegal activities at vacant houses

|     Azlan Othman     |

THE suggestion to revitalise Kampong Ayer was made by Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Putera Maharaja Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Ghani bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Rahim on the fifth day of the Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

He enquired on the number of vacant houses in Kampong Ayer and noted the need to monitor illegal activities which might take place at the vacant houses.

In his response, Minister of Home Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong said the owners of vacant houses need to hand them over to their nearest family members, or have them demolished.

“The District Office is monitoring the situation along with the village head. It is our intention to make Kampong Ayer attractive to lure tourists, for example under homestay programmes,” the minister said.

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman suggested for vacated houses to be used for floating vertical agricultural farming to lure more tourists and become a source of income for villagers, especially youth and senior citizens.

From left: LegCo member Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Putera Maharaja Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Ghani bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Rahim, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arshad and LegCo member and Village Head of Kampong Limau Manis Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @Jahari. – PHOTOS: RAHWANI ZAHARI

“It would be the first if we have a greenhouse project in Kampong Ayer,” she said.

The Minister of Home Affairs in his response said he will look into the matter and discuss it with the other agencies.

The issue of ‘Ali Baba’ businesses (businesses run by foreigners but registered under the names of Brunei citizens, where they become sleeping partners) in the country, meanwhile, was raised by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arshad.

He called on the relevant agencies to set up a taskforce to look into this practice and urged for more ‘Ali Ali’ enterprises to be set up (businesses actively run by locals and registered under their names).

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar said that awareness programmes on the consequences of ‘Ali Baba’ businesses will be conducted for the public.

The issue of a company which allegedly hired more than 200 foreign workers and only 15 locals was raised by LegCo member and Village Head of Kampong Limau Manis Yang Berhormat Awang Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari. In response, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar said the matter needs to be looked at from the standpoint of whether the hiring was made through the company itself or via other sources. Commenting on the foreign workers licence, the minister said the Labour Department is assessing the needs of each company depending on their activities.

He noted that the department is also working with JobCentre Brunei in controlling the number of foreign workers, “as there must be clearance from the JobCentre before the licence is granted for hiring foreign workers”.

In his welcoming speech, the minister laid out the proposed budget for his ministry on Wednesday, highlighting that the ministry’s next plan is to impose a foreign worker displacement ratio at a rate set so that more posts in the private sector will be filled up by local jobseekers, particularly for certain industrial sectors.

This proposal is being studied with the assistance of the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry, he said.

Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin raised the issue of stray dogs around residential areas.

He said contractors involved in the construction of houses bring dogs with them, but leave them once the projects are completed.

Responding to this, the minister said, “The Dog Act is in place where owners are urged to register their dogs. More owners in the Belait District registered their animals compared to other districts. The issue of stray dogs was also raised last year and a Mufti Fatwa or decree prohibiting the killing of dogs has also been issued.”